With college football season starting soon, coaches are looking for every advantage over the competition. A recent Wall Street Journal article “College Football Wakes Up to a New Statistic: Sleep” reports a fresh way teams are improving performance of their athletes: monitoring and improving their sleep.
If coach sees you tweeting at 3am the night before practice, you’re in trouble.
The article is a great read and details some interesting methods teams are using, from classic “bed checks” to new tinted classes that block certain wavelengths of light from electronic screens that can disrupt sleep patterns.
Why are coaches now so focused on improving the sleep of their players? Here are a few reasons:
- Better performance: A recent study showed that Stanford college basketball players improved their sprint times, endurance and three-point shooting – just by getting more sleep.
- Fewer injuries: Teenage athletes have been shown to suffer 68% fewer injuries by sleeping 8 or more hours per night. Take note, parents!
- More muscle growth and repair: Up to two-thirds of your body’s daily growth hormone secretion occurs during deep sleep. Your body uses its growth hormone to make proteins and repair damaged tissue.
More and more studies have shown that athletes play better and recover faster with more and better sleep. Better sleep has also been shown to improve focus, which is crucial to any competitor.
“Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing”
While that quote may be up for debate, there’s no question that teams want to win. Studies in Major League Baseball teams have shown that teams traveling across time zones – which disrupts circadian rhythms and sleep – lose much more often.
In fact, home-field advantage might have more to do with a time zone advantage. An east coast team traveling to the west coast (three-hour time zone difference) is expected to lose 60.6 percent of the time.
So there you have it. Often when we see college football players make a bonehead mistake on the field or miss a play, you hear the announcers ask if the player “spends enough time in the film room” or lifting weights in the gym.
Next time, you might ask if the player spends enough time at home sleeping!
Dr. Paruthi is a published researcher in the fields of obesity and diabetes, and he always sleeps on the cool side of the pillow.
Food for Sleep is a 2 ½ ounce drink designed to help you sleep at night. It’s a science-based recipe made with food ingredients clinically demonstrated to promote healthy sleep.
[Image Credit: Erik Drost via Flickr]